i. I started writing this post because I felt that I had to share this (click to view full size):

From abstrusegoose. But I decided that I might as well add a few other links as well.

ii. The Cochrane Foundation has just published a new review article on on ‘Pharmacotherapy for mild hypertension’ – it seems that the benefits of treatment are not as great as they have been made out to be. Via this slate article.

iii. (From Razib Khan’s pinboard feed:) How “god” evolved.

vi. In case you haven’t seen it:

v. Voyage of the James Caird. I may have linked to this before, but I don’t think so.

“The voyage of the James Caird was an open boat journey from Elephant Island in the South Shetland Islands to South Georgia in the southern Atlantic Ocean, a distance of 800 nautical miles (1,500 km; 920 mi). Undertaken by Sir Ernest Shackleton and five companions, its objective was to obtain rescue for the main body of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914–17, trapped on Elephant Island after the loss of its ship Endurance. History has come to consider the James Caird’s voyage as one of the greatest small-boat journeys ever accomplished.”

Here’s an image:

1500 kilometres and 16 days in a boat like that. And don’t think the trip was over when they reached the shore; those of them who could still travel had 36 hours of continuous travel across the mountainous and glacier-covered island in front of them before they were able to reach their goal, an inhabited whaling station in Stromness.

iv. I haven’t read this, but I assume that it may be of interest to some of you: Intelligence – A Unifying Construct for the Social Sciences, by Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen.


August 20, 2012 - Posted by | Cardiology, comics, History, Medicine, Pharmacology, Psychology, Random stuff, Studies, Wikipedia


  1. There is actually a huge advantage in stating how long you’ve been a vegetarian.

    The vast majority of people respect it, if I kindly decline a generous offer of meat with reference to my vegetarianism. But if some people are skeptical, asking me if I am sure I don’t want the meat, I tell them that I’ve been a vegetarian for 15 years. For whatever reason a lot of people take “I’ve been a vegetarian for 15 years” as a more definitive statement, than “I’m a vegetarian.”

    Of course, however you long you’ve been a vegetarian, there is no reason to be self-righteous prick about it.

    Comment by WilliamJansen (@WilliamJansen) | August 20, 2012 | Reply

    • For whatever reason a lot of people take “I’ve been a vegetarian for 15 years” as a more definitive statement, than “I’m a vegetarian.”

      I assume you can see why. If one takes a costly decision to stick to a mindset or a specific line of behaviour that requires frequent ‘reinvestment’, one will have invested way too much after that amount of time for anything anyone might say to have much of an impact.

      Incidentally, this requirement that for an idea to really stick it needs to require continuous reinvestment is also part of why religious movements do the whole ‘rituals thing’ – it keeps people remembering how much they’ve put into their stupid ideas. Habits are very powerful and all humans are subject to the sunk cost fallacy to some extent. A habit that you’ve successfully implemented which makes it look as if you by adhering to it are actually able to conquer your own vices/instincts/previous habits can become very strong over time if you keep being reminded about it and keep having to reinforce it to stay true to the new habit. It has to be for it to be successful in the long run.

      I haven’t seen any data on this, but my impression is that vegetarianism is more widespread among people with higher education who are not very religious. If it’s true it makes a lot of sense, if you think about it. The religious people have their community rituals, but so do the rest of us. And before you disregard the notion that factors like these may have had an effect on your decision to become and stay vegetarian, do remember that religious people usually think that they have very good reasons for believing the things they do. Given the right circumstances, people can justify and rationalize pretty much any behaviour known to man.

      Comment by US | August 21, 2012 | Reply

      • I haven’t seen any data either, but since vegetarianism is also a religious ritual as well, I don’t find it to be very likely, that most vegetarians are not reliogus. If Wikipedia is correct, there would be around 350 million vegetarians in India alone, whose vegetarianism are based on religion and religious tradition. On a global scale I’m pretty sure, your assumption is wrong.

        In the UK there would be around 2-3 million vegetarians ( and possibly as much as 0,5-1 million of followers of religions who practise vegetarianism ( So even in at least som western countries there would be a large part of religious vegetarians, although your assumption are more likely to be true here.

        Whether William is a religous person or not I will let him be the judge of – but I don’t think it is a coincidence, that he is both a vegetarian and at the same time contact person for a buddhistic inspired movement in Denmark:

        As for myself – when I was a vegetarian I was strictly non-religous. I also had at least two, but probably more, ways to rationalize, what happened to be in reality a teenage idée fixe.

        Comment by info2 | August 23, 2012

      • Interesting.

        I was not thinking about vegetarianism on a global scale. And I still think it’s highly doubtful that a significant subset of vegetarians in Denmark does not consist of people who are on average higher educated and less likely to be religious than are Danes who are not vegetarians. It’s a good point that there are other vegetarian subpopulations as well and that the ‘long education’ link may be stronger than the ‘no-religion’ link, but that fact doesn’t much relate to the point I was trying to make. And there aren’t a lot of buddhists in Denmark (~20.000 according to wikipedia – i.e. 0,35% of the population); given the reported European vegetariansm estimates in your link, they are very unlikely to make out much more than a small minority of Danish vegetarians. Also, we don’t have a lot of other big religious groups with a ‘vegetarian bent’ – the number of hindus in Denmark for instance is roughly one-third of the number of buddhists.

        Comment by US | August 23, 2012

  2. Thanks for the IQ paper – this will be my project for the next week or two.

    Comment by Plamus | August 21, 2012 | Reply

    • You’re welcome.

      Comment by US | August 21, 2012 | Reply

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